Updated handling boxes

Did you know that we have a range of handling boxes which can be borrowed for free by schools, community groups and care providers? These include loan boxes for schools and reminiscence boxes for older people’s groups.

There are boxes on a range of themes. Some of our most popular boxes for schools cover themes such as toys in the past, schooldays, World War II and the Victorians. Our reminiscence boxes cover themes such as childhood games, holidays, schooldays,  work, going out and life in the home.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been updating our handling boxes to make sure they are ready for the autumn. The Leisure and Going Out reminiscence box has now been completely redeveloped. One of my favourite objects is this Craven A cigarette tin. Inside the tin it says ‘Made specifically to prevent sore throats’. I love showing this to groups to start discussions about how attitudes to towards smoking have changed over time.

The box also contains some items of clothing, including real fur which really provokes discussion of societal attitudes. There are also some fascinating copies of Petticoat magazine, a women’s magazine from the 1960s and 70s. Some of the articles, adverts and fashion seem very modern, yet others would be unacceptable now or just simply old fashioned.

One of the more tame examples (some are not suitable for this blog) is this letter on the problem page. It is from a girl who is engaged and is worried that she isn’t as good at cooking as her soon-to-be mother-in-law.


Other objects include these hair curling tongs. These would be heated in a fire or gas hob and then used to curl your hair. Some older people’s groups have told me about burning your head or hair on these. Others have discussed ironing your hair (with a household iron)!

2017-07-10 15.50.41

One of the bigger tasks was updating the World War II loan box for schools and reminiscence box for older people’s groups. Both now have new material, images and notes.

One of my favourites is this mystery object.

Do you know what it is?…. (answer below)

2017-08-14 10.22.18

This is a button stick for polishing buttons and badges. You slide it around the button to stop the fabric underneath getting dirty.

If you are interested in finding our more about our handling boxes please see our website or contact me at diana.morton@edinburgh.gov.uk or 0131 529 6365.

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Fantastic summer exhibitions

Regular followers will know I usually blog about my work. However I’d like to take time in this blog to talk about some of the amazing free exhibitions on this summer, as well as giving a bit of an update on my work.

First up, our amazing summer exhibition at the City Art Centre: Edinburgh Alphabet. If you haven’t been yet, there really is something for everyone- from social history to sculpture! The exhibition is on until 8 October.

Then there is the wonderful It’s Alive at the Museum of Childhood. An interactive exhibition of automata. My particular favourites are the cat and the rabbit in a cabbage…

…Although the Museum of the Mind is pretty amazing too:


Also opening soon at the Museum of Childhood: Let’s Go to a Place, an exhibition by Wendy McMurdo. The exhibition explores the relationships between children and digital media.

MOC McMurdo Young Girl (iv) (002)

The Museum of Edinburgh is hosting two exhibitions: A Tale on the Mile by photographer David Guillen and Musket Axe and Drum: The Town Guard at a time
of Unrest 1688-1817.

Soldier-Web (002)

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the disbanding of the Edinburgh Town Guard and in the exhibition you can learn about crime and punishment in Edinburgh in the past.


For those who prefer their crime to be more contemporary (and fictional), the Writers’ Museum is hosting Rebus 30, an exhibition exploring the work of Ian Rankin.


You can also still visit the Crossings exhibition exploring the heritage of Leith at the People’s Story Museum or watch the dance films online.

In other news, I’m very excited to have been selected as a mentor for the Museums Association’s Mentoring for All programme. I have now taken part in a training day in Birmingham and I have had my first meeting with my mentee. I’ll blog a bit more about my experience as time goes on.  I’ve also been selected as a Trustee for the Social History Curators Group– very exciting!

I have also recently been working with a range of groups to offer activities. I’ve run reminiscence in a range of venues from the Western Infirmary to various care homes and day centres. I’ve run tours of Edinburgh Alphabet for the friends of the City Art Centre as well as giving curator’s tours on the Leith and Fishing sections of the exhibition. I’ve also been offering games activities in local libraries for the summer holidays.

I have also spent some time updating some of our loan and reminiscence boxes and I have completely redeveloped our Leisure and Going Out reminiscence box. If you would like to borrow one of our free resources, please contact me on 0131 529 6365 or diana.morton@edinburgh.gov.uk.

I did enjoy looking at some of the objects now included- such as these I Spy books:DSC_3146 (002)

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve also been developing a new  programme for Art in the City for autumn 2017. If you  know of someone who is affected by dementia who may enjoy taking part, do ask them to contact me so I can add them to the mailing list.

More recently I’ve also working on a small touring version of the Proud City exhibition which will travel to local libraries. Watch this space for more information!

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Art in the City- new dates

The new autumn/ winter programme for Art in the City is now available (see below). All sessions are free and take place 10:30-12:00.

Art in the City provides an opportunity for people whose lives are affected by dementia and their friends, families and carers to share a gallery visit and discuss art (and other things) in a friendly and supportive environment.

Lizzie Farey, 'Folium', 85cm diameter, willow, 2017. Photography Warren Sanders (low res)

Lizzie Farey, Folium, willow, 2017. © the artist. Photography Warren Sanders

If you are interested in attending, please contact Diana Morton: diana.morton@edinburgh.gov.uk or 0131 529 6365 to be added to the mailing list to receive the most up to date information.

Thurs 21 September Beyond Caravaggio Scottish National Gallery

The Mound, Edinburgh,


Thurs 19 October Museum Collections Centre (Museums & Galleries Edinburgh stores) Museum Collections Centre,

10 Broughton Market, Edinburgh


Thurs 9 November Songs for Winter City Art Centre,

2 Market Street,



Thurs 7 December The Palace of Holyrood House

There are limited spaces on this visit, so booking is essential. Please email: diana.morton@edinburgh.gov.uk

The Palace of Holyrood House,

Canongate, Royal Mile,

Edinburgh EH8 8DX

Thurs 11 January Playfair and the City and A Fine Line City Art Centre,

2 Market Street,



Thurs 8 February Hidden Gems City Art Centre,

2 Market Street,



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Holiday activities in Oxgangs, Currie and Colinton libraries

Looking for family summer holiday activities? Would you like to try out some traditional games? Learn how to use a diabolo, whip and peerie and more.

There will be free drop-in games activities taking place on:

  • 12 July 2.30-3.30pm at Oxgangs Library
  • 18 July 1-2pm at Currie Library
  • 18 July 3-4pm at Colinton Library


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F is for Fishing: Spotlight Tour- 14 July

In July there will be a series of Curator’s Spotlight Tours of Edinburgh Alphabet. I will be leading a short tour on 14 July at 11am. ‘Bow-tows: The Fisherfolk of Newhaven’ will explore the unique heritage of the village of Newhaven. The talk will last approximately 15 minutes and is free. Just drop in to the City Art Centre and meet at reception.


Fishing boats in Newhaven Harbour

I will look at some of the Newhaven material on display in Edinburgh Alphabet including art, photography and social history collections and  this gorgeous gala costume.


Edinburgh Alphabet

The fishwives of Newhaven were known for their brightly coloured costumes. When working, they would often wear a floral patterned shor’goon (blouse), a navy skirt, striped apron and a pooch (pocket) and often a shawl and coat. The last working Newhaven fishwife, Esther Liston, retired in 1976 aged 80


Fishwives at Newhaven Harbour (this pre-dates the building of the fishmarket)

Colourful gala costumes (such as the one on the mannequin) were worn by members of the choirs and on gala days, Sundays and for special occasions. Although the Newhaven fishwives are no longer a familiar sight, gala costume is still worn in the village on special occasions, such as the gala, today.


Newhaven Fisherwomen’s Choir on a trip to Norway

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Art in the City visit to Edinburgh Alphabet- 13 July

Art in the City will visit the Edinburgh Alphabet exhibition at the City Art Centre on 13 July.

Art in the City is a FREE programme of activities for people affected by dementia and their friends, family or carers. Art in the City provides an opportunity to share a visit to an art gallery or museum and discuss art (and other things) in a friendly and supportive environment.

Do join us from 10:30 at the City Art Centre for a cup of tea or coffee and a tour of the exhibition.

Please contact Diana.Morton@edinburgh.gov.uk or 0131 529 6365 for more information.




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New events and updates

If you haven’t visited our new exhibition Edinburgh Alphabet yet, why not join us for one of our events?

On 8 June Art in the City will visit the exhibition. Art in the City is for people affected by dementia and their friends, family or carers. Do join us from 10:30 at the City Art Centre for a cup of tea and a tour of the exhibition. Please contact me for more information: Diana.Morton@edinburgh.gov.uk or 0131 529 6365.

DSC_2670There are also a range of Spotlight tours and Curator’s talks linked to the exhibition. I will be giving a free 15 minute talk on the heritage of Leith at 11am on 7 June, so do drop in.


I will also give a Spotlight Tour on the history of Newhaven on 14 July at 11am.


Today is the start of Volunteers’ Week, so this weekend I’m helping out at the HVOS Celebrating Heritage Volunteers Symposium. If you are one of our wonderful volunteers, you can still book a place via Eventbrite.

Since Edinburgh Alphabet opened I have returned to more traditional outreach work. It was great to be able to show ‘Scotland for Newcomers’, a group run by The Welcoming, around the exhibition yesterday.


I have also been out running reminiscence with older people’s groups and visited Caring in Craigmillar, St Joseph’s House, the Almond Mains Initiative and the Western Infirmary to carry out reminiscence activities.

I was also fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the Mentors in the Mentoring for All programme run by the Museums Association (funded in Scotland by Museums Galleries Scotland) and attended a training day in Birmingham.

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